After battling with injuries all season long, New York Knicks‘ Lance Thomas is finally healthy and now producing like we all knew he could.Lance Thomas was brought back on a relatively cheap deal, considering the market. After re-upping with New York on a four-year, 27.5 million deal, many expected Thomas to build upon his career year. However, the 28-year-old has struggled with plantar fasciitis for a bulk of the season and he never lived up to the expectations, until now.
Following the All-Star break, the former Blue Devil has looked like the Thomas the fans fell in love with since his arrival in February of 2015. New York may only be 3-5 since the All-Star break but considering their monumental slide, it isn’t too bad a record. In those eight games, Thomas has been instrumental in New York’s victories and kept them close in their losses.
Since the second half of the year kicked off, Thomas has been lights out on the offensive end. In the past eight outings, he has posted 11.6 points per contest whilst shooting 53 percent from distance on close to three attempts per game. In comparison to the first 30 games of the year, where Thomas averaged just 4.8 points per game on 38 percent shooting overall, he has come back in a big way.
With Joakim Noah’s injury, Thomas has been a starter and assisted in stretching the floor even further. The New York native has canned 10 three-pointers and eight deep twos since the break and at an excellent clip and his re-found shooting touch has helped other. Thomas’ ability to stretch the floor has been a contributor to Kristaps Porzingis having more room to operate and therefore score 19.2 points per game on average since late February.
Apart from being an extremely effective offensive player, Thomas’ defense has been a breath of fresh air for the Knicks who have struggled mightily on that end. Early in the year, his defense was lackluster but up until last week, Thomas was running in constant pain which obviously would impact to be efficient defensively. However, since his return, Thomas has held opponents to an incredible 29 percent shooting overall and 25 percent from long distance.
Another aspect which makes Thomas’ defense all that more impressive is that he is doing it, for the most part, without fouling. Thomas is committing just 2.1 personal fouls per night whilst shutting down the opponent for 32 minutes per game. That is some first-class defense.
An underrated improvement since the break in Thomas’ game since his return has been his rebounding Over the first 30 games he grabbed a measly two rebounds per game. Despite the awfully low rate of rebounding, Thomas has picked it up in a big way, hauling down 5.9 boards a game including 1.1 on the offensive glass.
The five-year NBA veteran is showing no signs of an ailment of slowing down. In his injury-plagued beginning he was seeing just 17.6 minutes of action but since his rejuvenation, he is up to 32.6 minutes. Another positive is that he played 42 minutes in New York’s loss to Philadelphia last week and dropped a season-high 21 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 60 percent from three point land.
Lance Thomas has once again become the reliable player we grew to love last year. He has become that consistent shooter that we now want to shoot the ball compared to early in the year when many wanted him gone. The 28-year-old has also re-staked his claim as New York’s best perimeter defender and back into to elite category league-wide.
New York’s season may be lost from a winning standpoint but the rejuvenation or resurgence of Thomas has been pleasing to many and if he can remain healthy, it bodes increasingly well for the future.